I hope these crabs taste good, after all the nasty monsters we've had to eat on the second Strata so far, I'm hoping that they live up to the reputation of Earth crabs for being delicious. I suppose I need to finish the fight first.
Another crab reels, its shell cracking as slinters fly in all directions. The disgusting mass of anemone on its face roil and grasp for me but I'm already moving. My fast reflexes and future sense thrive in a situation like this. Monsters surround me on all sides but I'm able to move deftly with a speed that belies my large size. My synapses fire with incredible speed as I feel the monsters around me move. Claws reach for me, gross mouth parts seek to drill into me and in the midst of it all I shift my position with precision.
Angle the carapace here. Shift my legs now. Tilt my body to the left. Each movement presents a better angle, each time I step with my six legs, I'm able to dodge by a hair. They strike my carapace repeatedly. The sharp spines in the claws are damn sharp. Whenever they grab at me, they dig and chip into my hard shell, trying to inject their venom. So far, my carapace holds. Its' actually starting to give me a great sense of pride! How's that you damn crabs? Your shells are like nothing before us, but mine still holds strong! The ant reigns supreme yet again! MUAHAHAHAHA!
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But if the fight drags on too long, they might put my endurance to the test. Although the Inner Carapace plating is doing its sweet work, I don't want to put it to the test, and I don't want to rely on my healing gland too much. I need to save it for replacing legs more than healing chips in my precious diamond carapace.
Even if they aggravate me!
Stupid crabs! Omen Chomp!
Gweheheheh. Enjoy that, you stupid crab! Although, I'm starting to get tired. Too many uses of the Omen Chomp in a row is a massive drain on the stamina, I'll have to shelve it for a moment to let myself recover. I'll have to do something to get these monsters off of me.
I pump mana into my fireball and it blasts the clearing with light, chasing away the shadows and sending the creatures around me skittering back in fear. Nice! Since they fear the heat so much, I'll just have to give them an extra dose!
Using my main mind to shape the spell I draw out more fire mana and feed it into a basic bolt pattern. I'm familiar enough with this working that I can whip it out in seconds, even with the minor adjustments for the fire mana. Shortly, I have a rough and ready fireball ready to throw!
I blast it towards the closest monster and it reacts sharply, flinging up its claws to keep the hateful heat away from itself. Surprisingly the monster doesn't burn. I was kind of expecting it to light up like a candle but no such pyrotechnics take place. However, the crab definitely hates it. After absorbing the bolt with its claws, it begins writhing on the ground, out of the action. I'll take it.
I put my strongest sub-mind onto the task of spitting out firebolts and concentrate my efforts on biting, firing acid and making a general nuisance of myself as Tiny rips up the outside of the fight and Crinis works hard to keep the monsters from swarming me. Every firebolt puts a crab down, even without dealing fatal damage, they are easy pickings for a quick chomp.
Like this we rip through the clearing until the only monsters left were the smallest crabs, tier ones probably, scuttling away into the coral forest, slipping into gaps through which we can't hope to follow.
[Nice work team! Tiny, I'm impressed you did so well following directions, thanks to that you aren't dead! Crinis, nice support! You did great!]
I pat her with one of my antenna, causing her to freeze in place with joy. She's still working on that apparently.
We have claimed this clearing for the colony! Our first piece of territory in this expanse, indeed, in the entire second strata! Although I don't think we can claim it for long. I walk to the centre of the depression in the floor and right at the bottom there is a dense pool of mana. Spawn point. Explains why the crabs occupied this territory. Very normal behaviour for monsters with a base level of intelligence, so the Sophos told me. They like to grade monster intelligence based on a few simple behaviours. Apparently, the dumbest monsters usually are physically powerful roamers, wandering about smashing stuff until they either become too powerful to stop and take over an area, or more likely they get eaten when they run into something stronger.
Above them, you have pack hunters, creatures with some level of social behaviour in order to overcome relatively weaker individual strength. Above them, you have crude societal structures, like these crabs, or even the claw centipedes. At least smart enough to form a group around a spawn point and act together in mutual defence. Of course, higher than that you have things like my colony. Creatures capable of sophisticated social behaviours. Naturally higher than this is the monsters who begin to approach human intelligence. Alone or in groups, they're a much higher threat than anything else. According to the Sophos, monsters tend to get either smarter, or stronger, or both, the lower you go in the Dungeon. These crabs seem to be literal bottom feeders here in this expanse, which tells me that there are much stronger creatures we'll have to contend with.
It's kind of nice not to be top dog. After sensing that massive leviathan earlier, I'm quite sure that I'm not even close to the biggest and baddest monster down here. Which is exciting. A new challenge! A great feast! I can't wait.
For now. We need to count our gains from this crab harvest. I got quite a few skill ups. Omen chomp, healing mana, fire mana, defence. I even got a level! Quite the profitable fight! Hopefully Crinis and Tiny reaped an even greater reward.
Time to eat!
[You have consumed a new source of Biomass: Allium Major Capsule (IV). One Biomass awarded.]
[Allium Major Capsule: Greater Claw Anemone (IV). A hybrid between a successful plant species and a crustacean archetype, the Greater Claw Anemone has a strong defence and multiple ways to apply deadly poison. Beware its mouth parts with are capable of tunnelling through flesh to consume its victims from within.]
Well that's horrifying. Also, the taste is awful. These crabs have made it onto my hit list.